The first beach you'll hit after the Santa Monica Freeway (I–10) runs into the Pacific Coast Highway, wide and sandy Santa Monica is the place for sunning and socializing. Be prepared for a mob scene on summer weekends, when parking becomes an expensive ordeal. Swimming is fine (with the usual post-storm pollution caveat); for surfing, go elsewhere. For a memorable view, climb up the stairway over the PCH to Palisades Park, at the top of the bluffs. Free summer-evening concerts are held on the pier on Thursday nights. Amenities: food and drink; lifeguards; parking; showers; toilets; water sports. Best for: sunset; surfing; swimming; walking.